Spaghetti with Shrimp and Pancetta
Spaghetti, Shrimp, Pancetta…how you can go wrong? Pasta dishes that are simple, and seem simply “thrown together” are often my favorites, and this recipe for Spaghetti, Shrimp and Pancetta is exactly that. Both spaghetti and shrimp, take little more than 10 minutes to cook, and not much longer for pancetta, or bacon if that’s what you have. That means that within about 30 minutes, you can make this simple dish that has succulent, tender shrimp, flavored with salty and savory bacon, all supported and carried together by the perfectly cooked al dente spaghetti. It’s easy to modify this dish with additional herbs and veggies, and I encourage you to do so. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Recipe Overview and Keys to Success
To make the Spaghetti with Shrimp, just follow these few simple steps:
- It’s most important to cook the three main ingredients (shrimp, pancetta, and pasta) right. The spaghetti needs to be perfectly al dente so start tasting it before the package suggests it should be done
- The shrimp, can’t be overcooked, or they’ll get rubbery. So I cook them quickly at the end. If you’re not comfortable with how long things will take, cook them separately, first, and then hold them off the heat to add back and then very end.
- The pancetta needs to be cooked well, to render out the fat. Again, I cook it separately, until it’s nice and crispy. That will concentrate the flavor and keep it from becoming soggy in the sauce.
- Finally, the sauce in this dish is a simple combination of wine and stock, reduced down and then enhanced with a bit of butter. Don’t skimp on either but keep the ratio about 50/50. You can reduce them down to thicken, and if needed add back a bit of pasta water if you need to thin it out
RECIPE FOR SPAGHETTI WITH SHRIMP AND PANCETTA
Ingredients (for 2)
- 1/3 lbs spaghetti
- 1/2 onion, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1/4 cup of pancetta - diced
- ~10 shrimp, peeled, deveined and cut in half
- 1/2 cup good white wine
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1/4 cup frozen peas
- 1 lemon (for the juice)
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- Dash of red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon of butter
Making the Spaghetti with Shrimp and Pancetta
- Bring a pot of salted water to the boil for the spaghetti and then start on your sauce
- Add the diced pancetta to a pan over medium heat with just a touch of olive oil
- Saute until the pancetta’s fat is rendered and it’s slightly crisp (about 7 minutes)
- Add the sliced onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook with the pancetta until tender and slightly browned
- Add the garlic and the pepper flakes to the sauté pan and cook it for about 30 seconds to a minute
- Add the spaghetti to the salted, boiling water
- Turn the heat on the sauté pan to high and add the wine, bring it to a simmer, and allow it to reduce by half (about 5 minutes)
- Add the chicken stock to the sauté pan; after about 1 minute add the shrimp
- Turn the heat down if you need to slow down the reduction
- Drain the spaghetti once it’s al dente, reserving a bit of the pasta water in case you need it for the sauce
- Add the frozen peas and the spaghetti to the sauté pan, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine
- Cook together for about 2 minutes, add the parsley, butter and a touch of lemon juice; toss to combine
- Serve it up and a pasta bowl and enjoy!
Wine recommendation: I’d definitely call for a nice crispy white wine with this recipe, and since we’re dealing with both spaghetti and pancetta, let’s stick with Italy. I think you have plenty of options, the most readily available would be a simple Pinot Grigio, but my favorite would be a Timorasso from the Piedmont region. The flavor is fairly bold and will hold up to the pancetta flavors, without overpowering the dish. Enjoy!